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Groups Slam Environmental Defense Fund for Fracking "Greenwash"

Criticism follows news that EDF president has partnered with gas companies in pro-fracking coalition

More than 70 environmental groups and activists sent a letter to EDF President Fred Krupp accusing him of "greenwashing" a pro-fracking group. (Photo: fotdmike/ Flickr)

Environmental groups and activists slammed the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) this week for partnering with a coalition of Big Energy companies and pro-fracking groups, saying there is "nothing sustainable about shale oil or shale gas."

"Greenwashing" is what the groups called the move, following the disclosure that the Executive Director of EDF, Fred Krupp, had joined the board of directors of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD).

"The very use of the word sustainable in the name is misleading, because there is nothing sustainable about shale oil or shale gas," they wrote in a letter addressed to Krupp (pdf) and signed by more than 70 environmental groups and activists including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Beyond Nuclear, numerous local anti-fracking organizations, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Gasland director Josh Fox.

Based in Pittsburgh, Penn., CSSD claims to provide a forum "for a diverse group of stakeholders" to discuss "innovative practices" and "share expertise" for shale oil and gas development. Other partners include the presidents of CONSOL Energy and Chevron Appalachia as well as the president of The Heinz Endowments, of which Secretary of State John Kerry's wife, Teresa, is chairman.

"[O]ur goals as a nation are not, and cannot, be the same as those of Chevron, CONSOL Energy, EQT Corporation, and Shell, all partners in CSSD," writes the group.

The letter continues:


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These are fossil fuels, and their extraction and consumption will inevitably degrade our environment and contribute to climate change. Hydraulic fracturing, the method used to extract them, will permanently remove huge quantities of water from the hydrological cycle, pollute the air, contaminate drinking water, and release high levels of methane into the atmosphere. It should be eminently clear to everyone that an economy based on fossil fuels is unsustainable. [...]

These corporations are interested in extracting as much shale gas and oil as possible, and at a low cost. We are interested in minimizing the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels and in facilitating a rapid transition to the real sustainable energy sources—the sun, the wind, and hydropower.

The group cites the "glaring faults" of the CSSD's alleged "performance standards" for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and says the "whole notion of expanding oil and gas drilling" is problematic when one considers the destruction caused by the practice.

"It is doubtful that the tens of millions of Americans who live 'on the shale' would approve of open waste pits or the underground injection of undisclosed toxic chemicals in the vicinity of their water wells," they add.

"While EDF is free to partner with the gas industry in CSSD, we feel it is important that the press and the public clearly understand that neither EDF nor CSSD represents the environmental and public health communities on the subject of shale oil and gas extraction," the group concludes.


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